TRITHEN, Franz Heinrich

TRITHEN, Franz Heinrich (in England called Francis Henry). St.Stephan, Simmental, canton Bern (Stache-Weiske: Brugg/Aargau) 1820 (bapt. 4.2.) — near Odessa 27.4.1854. Swiss Indologist. He grew up in Russia, studied in Germany and worked in England, but remained Swiss citizen all his life. While Windisch and Mehlitz call him Franz, Wackernagel has Friedrich. His father, Franz Emanuel Tritten (sic) soon accepted a post of teacher in Odessa, where he also became Swiss Consul. The son matriculated in 1837 from Lycée Richelieu and studied in 1838-39 at Berlin under Bopp, Boeckh, Lachmann, et al., apparently also visited Bonn. Befriended with Petrov. In 1840 he came to London and in 1841 to Oxford, where hecontinued his studies andtaught modern lan­guages at Rugby.For a while tutor in the family of the Russian Minister of War in Constantinople and Cairo. In 1844-48 worked in British Museum, then Professor of Modern European Languages at Oxford. He retired because of an illness (variously called epilepsy or a mental illness) in 1851 and returned to his parents in Odessa, at Oxford he was succeeded by Max Müller.

Trithen was a linguist who knew many languages: Russian, Polish, German, English, French, Italian, Modern Greek, Latin and Sanskrit. In 1846 he planned an edition of the Ṛgveda with Roth and Rieu, but it came to nothing and was then realized by Max Müller. In Oxford he collated a Sāmaveda manuscript for Benfey. His Mahāvīracarita was an editio princeps on the basis of three manuscripts, the second part (variants and translation) never appeared. He was wise enough not to correct Prakrit according to Vararuci’s rules. He was much interested in music and played violin.

Publications: Edited: The Mahá Víra Charita, or the history of Ráma, a Sanscrit play by Bhat´t´a Bhavabhúti. 4+138 p. L. 1848.

Articles on Indian subjects in Penny Cyclopaedia.

An introductory lecture to the comparative study of languages: delivered before Rugby School on Monday, February 27th, 1843. 20 p. Rugby 1843; “In the position occupied by the Slavonic Dialects among the other Languages of the Indo-European Family”, Tr. Philol. Soc. 4, 1848, 225-232 & 5, 7-12 (unfinished).

Sources: O. Mehlitz, ZII 10:3, 1936, 277-287 (from Russian sources); *Petrov, Russkij Vestnik 1, 1856, 156f.; Stache-Weiske 2017, 565; J. Wackernagel, ZII 8, 1931, 140f.; Windisch 380f.; *Biogr. Univ.

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